Causes of Anxiety Attacks

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Anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, occur suddenly and seemingly without provocation. Deeper investigation shows that anxiety attacks commonly occur when the sufferer is under extreme stress or has a low self-image. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and an urge to flee the situation. Sufferers feel as though they are having a heart attack or cannot breathe, and often rush to an emergency room. Treatment includes anti-anxiety medication, psychoanalysis and learning to deal with stress.

Stress

  • Stress from divorce, moving, changing jobs, death of a loved one or other major life events trigger anxiety attacks.

Pregnancy

  • It is believed that pregnant women are more prone to anxiety attacks than non-pregnant females.

Illness

  • Illnesses stress the body and can bring on an anxiety attack, especially heart and lung disease.

Medications

  • Antidepressants, Ritalin and some antibiotics contribute to anxiety attacks.

Genes

  • Genetics is thought to play a role in anxiety attacks, as anxiety disorders tend to run in families.

Brain Chemistry

  • Brain chemistry imbalances, including high levels of norepinephrine (which increases anxiety) and low levels of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which both relax the nervous system, are found in people with anxiety disorders.

Withdrawal

  • Withdrawal from alcohol and stimulants causes anxiety attacks.

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